March 2016

Couple honored for 15 years of service delivering meals—and reassurance

For George and Gloria Koback, delivering meals on wheels is a family affair—and a long-time one at that.

The Kobacks of Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, were recently recognized for 15 years of service with Diakon Community Services, primarily for their efforts in delivering meals.

In fact, their involvement with the program began with a daughter, Stephanie, who delivered meals for numerous years before beginning to work full-time.

When this occurred, George was hired and assumed her route and when Gloria left her job, she began volunteering and making deliveries with George. The couple currently delivers meals three days a week to around a dozen clients on a 50- to 60-mile route in a rural section of Schuylkill County—sometimes with grandchildren in tow.

“It’s a tradition,” says Gloria. The children “learn to communicate with older people and learn to respect them.”

“Their work impacts so many lives in so many meaningful ways.”

Without people such as the Kobacks, says Karen Wood, executive director of Diakon Community Services, “many people would be denied the opportunity to have a nutritionally balanced meal or have contact with another person on a regular basis. Their work impacts so many lives in so many meaningful ways.”

George Koback shares an enjoyable moment with Tracy Miller, Meals on Wheels coordinator, right, before cake-cutting time at the recent celebration.

Meals on Wheels, she adds, is “so much more than a meal.” The delivery not only enhances clients’ quality of life, but also can result in increased wellness and decreased isolation.

“The Kobacks are the face of Diakon to Meals on Wheels clients, and it’s one that they present in a caring, relationship-building way.” In fact, the couple typically greet each client with a cheery smile and the same important question: “How are you doing?”

Their work occasionally creates adventure. George notes that while he was training another Meals on Wheels driver not long ago, the pair got into a debate about the merits of using a GPS system for directions. The trainee was an experienced GPS user, but George says had never used one and preferred the tried-and-true combination of maps and asking strangers for directions while delivering meals.

“He told me how nice it was that a GPS will give you detours around construction, so to prove a point, I gave him the next address on our route and told him to see what the GPS indicated,” George says. The proffered directions were to “go straight ahead, which we did—but a quarter-mile away the bridge was out! So even though a GPS might come in handy sometimes, it certainly doesn't know everything....”

GPS or not, the couple estimates they have delivered more than 1,000 meals over the course of their 15 years, and have no plans to retire from their delivery route

“We have no plans to slow down,” says George. “We’ll deliver as long we can,” bringing food, friendship and family to the many Meals on Wheels clients they’ve grown to love.

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